Oh man, this was not the XC schooling I had imagined. Especially not the weekend before our first recognized outing. But, ironically enough, it was the XC school I needed.
Because here’s the thing: not a single jump or line or question that LT put us over scared me. There were even higher options that LT gave us and, while I didn’t chose to do them for other reasons, I wasn’t nervous that we couldn’t get over it. I knew we could. Gus can jump any dang fence out there. But, even with knowing that and feeling confident about the fences, I became so frustrated that I couldn’t do anything but cry when things started feeling crapy.
I have been doing a lot of crying lately. That needs to stop.
Truthfully, there’s a reason behind all the crying. Life has been hard lately. Mostly due to work, I haven’t been sleeping well or a lot, I’ve been stressed, and I’m having a hard time caring about anything else. So really it wasn’t a surprise that my frustration cup hath runneth over.
The whole point of this XC lesson was to work on pace and rhythm to the fence. If you ride the pace, you’re going to have a nice jump, right? Maybe, I don’t know because I couldn’t seem to get it. No matter what I did it seemed to be a coin flip on whether or not we’d chip in or jump out of stride. All I wanted from Gus was a little help. For him to be the confident one and take me to the fence.
It didn’t happen. Not once.
Cue melt down.
That’s when LT stepped in and gave me a little bit of tough love: Gus is not that horse. He will most likely never be that horse. Like Lainey said, he’s careful and he has a sense of self preservation that you need in an event horse. But, and this is important, he is so so willing. If I put the leg on and say yes Gus goes every time.
I’ve got to learn to ride the horse I have. It means that I have to be the leader. In the long run it will make me a better rider but in the short run, things may be hard. If I want this, I have to work for it.
I won’t bore you with a breakdown of every exercise we did. LT ran us through our paces and left us on a super positive end note where we did jump out of stride and over a skinny. Skinnies are one thing that Gus does fantastically. Lots of horses at his level don’t. As brave as Dandy was, getting him to a skinny was a fight with the devil.
Sporting Days will be a real test for us but one that I think we are ready for. This kick in the pants was hard to hear but exactly what I needed. And even if I am crying in almost every single photo, I learned what I needed. Ride forward. Lead.